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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperArt (Moderator: JWK5)Low poly flat-shaded art- love it or hate it?
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Valar05
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« on: January 12, 2018, 01:43:06 PM »


"Low Poly" is a bit of a nebulous term these days.  It can basically mean anything from the simple cartoony characters from Wind Waker, to any model that's not a sculpt (which would be "high poly"), to the style I think of first, which is flat-shaded low poly, so dubbed more for the fact you can see the individual faces (polys) than for the actual poly count.  Like Clustertruck, or Superhot:


(It's the most innovative shooter I've played in years).

The first time I saw low poly art of this style, I wasn't so sure about it.  Why would anyone go out of their way to make something that looked so artifical? The more I've been exposed to it though, the more good examples of it I've seen, the more I started to like it. 

It eventually reached a point where I decided to try it myself.  As someone who's never really enjoyed texturing, it was like suddenly being freed from shackles.  No more sculpting, no more UV unwrapping, no more painting - just choose a good palette and you're pretty much good to go. 

One could argue that the flat faces are optional for a textureless style, but I feel like they add a certain amount of necessary noise to a scene.  Looking at something that goes for a minimalistic (not flat-shaded) low poly style like The Witness, you can still see a lot of subtle variation in the texturing.



Minimalistic or not, it is a lot of work - and texture work at that (my least favorite kind). 

I have started to see the style gain traction lately, but I'd say it's still fairly rare to see here - compared to pixel art for example.  As both a (amateur) game artist and game dev, I adore the flexibility offered by 3D models (especially for animation), so finding a 3D style that can still look decent while consuming a much smaller portion of my time is amazing. 

I'm curious if there's simply something about this style that turns people off, have I just desensitized to it?  Is it that many people are intimidated by the very idea of working in 3D, just love working in 2D, or something else entirely?  Would love to hear your thoughts.
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TEETH
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 07:30:32 PM »

I think it's very hard to pull of well. However, if you do pull it off it usually has a nice endearing charm to it.
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Valar05
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 07:05:30 AM »

I think it's very hard to pull of well. However, if you do pull it off it usually has a nice endearing charm to it.

I'd say the same could be said for any art style though - particularly pixel art.  Seems to me you can spend a comparable amount of effort making a character that looks decent in one pose from one angle, or make a character that looks decent from any angle in a lot of poses.  

I guess if you're a dedicated 2D artist already it's a no-brainer, but I feel like a lot of people come in with no art experience either way, and gravitate to 2D because it "seems easier".  By contrast though, I think the models I could make after two weeks of learning Blender look nicer than anything I could draw today - and I'm more in-practice with drawing than the average (non-artist) adult.  

The flat-shaded low poly style is pretty much the simplest form of 3D art, so it seems like a natural entry point for a lot of people, but instead it's still seems fairly niche.
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cynicalsandel
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 05:16:14 PM »

give me textures or give me death
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MADHOUSE
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2018, 06:56:58 AM »

I don't really mind low-poly or highly stylized visuals, as long as it's not just a cheap attempt to cover up a game's lack of actual content and gameplay. I think this is something that is a bit too common and does make me cautious when I see such titles in general.
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ODOVEDESIGN
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2018, 10:11:03 AM »

I think any examples where it looks good, and lovable like the examples that you have provided, it is a godsend, and it obviously creates a bright wonderful, easy to understand environment, but some people see this style as an excuse to be lazy with their visuals, and that is where the design style falls down, I think if you are making a decision to use this style for a game, you have to commit and treat it with just as much respect as you would with a game that uses intense stylistic looks.
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EdwardDKings
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2018, 07:53:51 PM »

I'm definitely leaning towards "Love-It" these days... Just recently I started becoming interested in this style of art after playing "Human's Fall Flat," which might not be the best example, but was enough to ignite my curiosity for it.

I haven't been interested in "realistic" art style for a while, at best it gets the jobs done, creating a pretty world, at worse it tears me away from the experience. And I've always been interesting in good pixel art, and minimalistic art. So I feel Low-Poly fills in that gap in between minimalistic/simple Pixel art and 3D models.

I have no data, but I feel like more and more games are coming out using Low-Poly models and I wonder why. Are we having a Low-Poly renaissance like we did with 8-Bit, retro style games? Can it really be called a renaissance if they look unlike anything that came before?
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doghouse
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2018, 10:01:24 PM »

Low-poly flat-shaded is an art style.

It's also a practical art style and isn't new (see Hard Drivin' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Drivin%27), and as usual was about technical considerations.

Today, it has developed into an aesthetic choice.  Personally, I chose it for my current project because I am lazy and wish to save time - but I know it can look good.  And in VR, I find geometry more intriguing than texturing anyway.  So, it was a no-brainer, but also very fitting.

But Boomcake is right, the style requires understanding and commitment - like any style.

Personally, I like it.  With interesting geometry, colour palette and lighting, it makes great scenes - especially in VR, especially indoor scenes.
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rasterzone
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2018, 06:53:00 PM »

I've noticed that trend too. I think part of the reason for doing it is because it's a good way for a game to differentiate itself. Especially for smaller indie games, where photorealism and movie quality effects aren't very practical.

And I think it works well too. Games like SuperHot and MineCraft may have simple looking graphics, but their style is instantly recognizable to me even though I've only ever seen screenshots. I've never played them.
Meanwhile, FPS's like Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc. all look the same to me, and aren't as memorable. And I've played those games!

-Alan
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Diabetes Forecast
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2018, 09:04:44 AM »

I feel low-poly works best when you're working for it rather than against it, and unfortunately most games adhearing to the non-texture driven styles aren't attempting to work with it. You have this issue of people falling to the idea that they still need to make rounded shapes, making things that look awkward against the angular nature of the medium.

In order to really work with it well, you kinda have to think about what detail it is you're actually trying to supplement against or pull from. Frankly then, you should check it by turning off lighting and check it's sillouettes and forms as they are shadeless too. if the sillouettes read poorly in the angular form, you can tell. on the opposite side, you should be able to tell when you used too many.

Now granted, this example is different in that there's textures, but it's amazing how much you can get from what is basically a triangle wedge.
https://sketchfab.com/models/a89424e9e4b84578b81a4fd797bb6939

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